Re: Guilt by association

From: Keith Miller (kbmill@ksu.edu)
Date: Thu May 15 2003 - 14:58:38 EDT

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    Don Winterstein wrote:

    > I'm firmly in the Fiddler camp.=A0 I believe God=A0wants to give=A0the =
    world=20
    > as much freedom=A0as possible=A0to develop in the ways it prefers, but =
    the=20
    > world has always been=A0recalcitrant=A0and,=A0left to itself, will =
    always go=20
    > in directions that, if not modified, will thwart God's goals.=A0 In=20
    > other words, "sin" is built into the world, it's in the nature of the=20=

    > world;=A0sin=A0didn't=A0originate with humans.=A0 (Neither did =
    death.)=A0 So God=20
    > from time to time=A0needs to step=A0in to make course corrections.=A0 =
    The=20
    > Bible tells us that God has operated within recorded history by=20
    > intervening from time to time.=A0=A0Plausibly it is how he=A0has =
    operated=20
    > for the last 13.7 billion years or so.=A0=A0

    This view seems to imply that "natural evil" has its source in the=20
    action of some free being acting in opposition to God from the=20
    beginning of God's creative process -- in other words, attributing it=20=

    to some ancient angelic fall.

    While the argument for an angelic fall is not inconsistent with the=20
    Bible, finding direct scriptural support is difficult at best. =20
    Attributing animal suffering and death to the actions of such fallen=20
    powers is more difficult still. In fact, it runs into many of the same=20=

    theological problems as the tracing of natural evil to the consequences=20=

    of human disobedience. A satanic corruption and distortion of God=92s=20=

    creative activity is very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile=20
    with the goodness of creation proclaimed in scripture.

    What does the repeated pronouncement of =93And God saw that it was good=94=
    =20
    over creation mean, if that same creation also bore the corrupting=20
    imprint of rebellious spiritual powers? Such a creation could not=20
    fully represent God=92s good and perfect will =96 so how could it be=20
    declared good, in fact =93very good=94? In what way could that =
    distorted=20
    creation give praise and glory to God?

    A serious theological problem is also raised by effectively attributing=20=

    all manifestations of death and pain in the natural world to the forces=20=

    of evil. Satan would be given a power over creation that Scripture=20
    places exclusively in God=92s providential hands. All natural processes=20=

    and events are undergirded by the creative and sustaining power of God.=20=

       Rain or drought, plague or harvest, storm and earthquake are all part=20=

    of God=92s providential action (see Amos 4:6 ff). More than this, God =
    is=20
    understood as intimately and actively involved in the continual cycle=20
    of death and new life we observe in the natural world (Psalm 104:27-30).

    If God is thus involved in the death as well as the life of his=20
    creatures, how can this death at the same time be attributed to the=20
    spiritual forces of evil? Scripture does not seek to distance God from=20=

    the ongoing death and pain present in the creation, and neither should=20=

    we.

    Keith

    Keith B. Miller
    Research Assistant Professor
    Dept of Geology, Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506-3201
    785-532-2250
    http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~kbmill/



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